Lacking mystery and low on suspense, this installment reads more like a family in extremis soap opera larded with Native...


Minnesota private eye Cork O’Connor’s 13th case is a family affair in all the worst ways.

Even though he’s no longer sheriff of Tamarack County, Cork is still a member of the Search and Rescue Team. So it’s only natural that he’d get a call when Evelyn Carter goes missing. The Buick belonging to the 70-ish wife of irascible retired judge Ralph Carter has been found abandoned with an empty gas tank miles from her home and with no clue of what happened to her—unless you’ve read the first chapter and already know that she was stabbed to death in the driveway of her own home. Even as Sheriff Marsha Dross and the rest of her team are digging in every snowbank in Tamarack County for Evelyn’s remains, there’s a second violent attack. While Cork’s teenage son Stephen is keeping company with Marlee Daychild, trying to figure out whether they’re “just talking” or progressing toward other intimacies, someone cuts off the head of Dexter, the dog belonging to Marlee’s uncle, RayJay Wakemup, who’s about to be released from prison. (The place where Dexter’s head finally turns up is one of the few surprises here.) Ignoring the bloody recent history of Tamarack County (Trickster’s Point, 2012, etc.), Cork and company assume that the two incidents are related. They trace them back to the conviction 20 years ago of Cecil LaPointe for the murder of party-girl coed Karyn Bowen, a resolution that depended on Judge Carter’s suppression of RayJay’s exculpatory evidence. But this ancient case is much less urgent than the questions of whether Cork’s daughter Annie will take her vows as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur or yield to the embraces of teacher Skye Edwards, or what will happen between Stephen and Marlee or between Cork and Marlee’s mother.

Lacking mystery and low on suspense, this installment reads more like a family in extremis soap opera larded with Native American lore. Wait till next year.

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4575-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be...


Box takes another break from his highly successful Joe Pickett series (Stone Cold, 2014, etc.) for a stand-alone about a police detective, a developmentally delayed boy, and a package everyone in North Dakota wants to grab.

Cassandra Dewell can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County. She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom. But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

A suspenseful, professional-grade north country procedural whose heroine, a deft mix of compassion and attitude, would be welcome to return and tie up the gaping loose end Box leaves. The unrelenting cold makes this the perfect beach read.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-58321-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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